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Obama Boxed in by Generals on Afghanistan

By Ray McGovern - Posted on 27 August 2010

Obama Boxed In by Generals on Afghanistan
By Ray McGovern

Just back from Afghanistan, Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway held a news conference Tuesday to add his voice to the Pentagon campaign to disparage the July 2011 date President Barack Obama set for U.S. troops to begin leaving Afghanistan.
Conway claimed that intelligence intercepts suggest that this deadline has strengthened the conviction of those resisting the U.S.-led occupation that it is just a matter of time before most foreign forces leave.
Thus, Conway:
“In some ways … it’s probably giving our enemy sustenance. … We think he may be saying to himself … ‘Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.’”
Conway, however, was quick to reassure supporters of the war in Afghanistan that Taliban morale is likely to drop when, “come the fall [of 2011] we’re still there hammering them like we have been.”
Conway began his press conference by adding a new measure to the refrain led by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, that considerable time will be required before Afghan forces can take over from U.S. troops.
The Marine general said, “I honestly think it will be a few years before conditions on the ground are such that turnover will be possible for us,” adding, “When some American unit somewhere in Afghanistan will turn over responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2011, I do not think they will be Marines.”
President Obama and his generals have emphasized that any withdrawal will be “conditions based,” much as President George W. Bush did regarding Iraq. But setbacks in Afghanistan over the past several months — in particular, the failure of the large Marine campaign to secure Marja, a rural area of Helmand province — have made it abundantly clear that “conditions” are not likely to favor more than a token withdrawal next July.
On a June visit to Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen discussed the setbacks with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Mullen admitted, “We underestimated some of the challenges” in Marja, which the Marines tried to clear in March, only to have Taliban fighters return.
“They’re coming back at night, the intimidation is still there,” said Mullen. Marja had been widely advertised by the Pentagon as the warm-up for driving the Taliban out of Kandahar beginning in June 2010.
The U.S. military postponed the campaign against Kandahar in May, and Mullen conceded that, “It’s going to take until the end of the year to know where we are” there.
Top Brass vs. President
The Obama administration’s reluctance to discipline senior generals for comments bordering on insubordination seems to have encouraged the generals to believe they can speak their mind with impunity about President Obama's management of the Afghan conflict.
The exception to this rule was the extraordinary case of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan until he became the subject of a Rolling Stone article, “Runaway General,” in which McChrystal and his military inner circle were quoted as mocking Obama and the civilian leadership.
The title had an ironic twist since the derogatory comments enabled McChrystal to run away from the consequences of his stumbling war effort, by getting himself fired. After Marja and the abject failure of his campaign to win hearts and minds of most Afghans, McChrystal knew better than anyone that the war was hopeless.
Crusty old Marines like Gen. Conway do not run away—they no longer “fade away,” either. Scheduled to retire this fall after 40 years, he also isn’t angling for some big promotion. Nor is he inclined to sugarcoat military realities in order to calm political nerves in Washington and elsewhere in the country.
Conway has spoken out before against what he considered — legitimately, in my view — arrogant politicians trying to micromanage Marine offensives in ways that caused needless killing of his Marines. For instance, he objected to the Bush administration’s cavalier use of Marines to crush resistance in Fallujah, Iraq, in the spring of 2004. (See below for more detail on Conway’s experience in Fallujah.)
So Gen. Conway let loose at Tuesday’s press conference, pointing out “The President was talking to several audiences at the same time when he made his comments regarding July 2011.” Implication: The July 2011 date was pure politics; there was no military justification for the deadline then; and there is certainly no military justification for it now.
Conway may be insubordinate, but he is also correct about that.
Obama tried to have it both ways, giving the hawks in his administration the escalation they wanted while offering the doves in his political base a fixed date for beginning a troop withdrawal. Such cleverness can work sometimes in politics, but it won’t work in a difficult war like the one in Afghanistan.
However much Obama may have resented it, by last fall he had to admit to himself that he had been thoroughly outmaneuvered by high-profile generals. Take McChrystal, for example, who was well known to have run special operations assassination squads for five years in Iraq under the aegis of Vice President Dick Cheney. McChrystal also demonstrably lied about who killed football-star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.
And yet, Obama couldn’t say no, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Pentagon’s most famous “water-walker,” Gen. Petraeus, told the President to put McChrystal in charge of the war in Afghanistan.
Either from naiveté or hubris or a combination of both, Obama apparently felt he still could maintain some control over the situation through his persuasive skills. Instead, he found himself in a corner.
The Long Reassessment
During last year's long review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, McChrystal’s recommendations for a major escalation of troops and an open-ended commitment for 10 years or more were leaked to the press. Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen also made a public case for a long-term commitment, as did Petraeus, who was chief of the Central Command.
Then, during a public presentation in London on Oct. 1, 2009, McChrystal himself said he could not support a presidential decision to fight the war primarily with drone aircraft and Special Forces, the more limited approach advocated by Vice President Joe Biden.
Instead of firing McChrystal then, Obama on Oct. 2 gave the general a 25-minute counseling session on Air Force One. He then told Pentagon leaders to stop their public advocacy of McChrystal’s proposals.
In the book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, author Jonathan Alter said the President was sending the Pentagon “an unmistakable message: Don’t toy with me.” Obama wasn’t going to let himself get backed into a corner, said Alter. Right.
Mullen and Gates were summoned to the White House, but all that emerged was a flaccid statement from Gates saying it was “imperative” that generals provide their advice “candidly but privately.” Mullen did tell the generals to knock off the public campaign for a substantial troop buildup in Afghanistan, and the leaks mostly stopped.
However, Obama had been softened up politically. By October 2009, with the reassessment on Afghanistan having dragged on for months, Obama came under attack from former Vice President Dick Cheney and others for supposedly “dithering.”
Yet, behind the scenes, other generals — former ones, with less personal stakes in the Afghan War — were resisting the push for major escalation.
James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser and a former four-star general, had been pushing back against McChrystal and other hawks. Undercutting the rationale for escalation, Jones told the press on Oct. 4, 2009:
“I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling. … The al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”
In early November, Obama also received cogent, sober advice from his ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, himself a former general who knew twice as much about Afghanistan as McChrystal and Petraeus put together. From 2002 to 2003, Eikenberry was responsible for training Afghan security forces. He then served 18 months (2005-2007) as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
In two highly sensitive cables of Nov. 6 and 9, 2009, (the texts of which were almost immediately leaked by an unknown U.S. official to the New York Times), Eikenberry declared, “I cannot support [the Defense Department’s] recommendation for an immediate Presidential decision to deploy another 40,000 here.”
Damning McChrystal’s recommendations with faint (and condescending) praise, Eikenberry described them as “logical and compelling within his [McChrystal’s] narrow mandate to define the needs for a military counterinsurgency campaign within Afghanistan.”
Eikenberry then went on to list a dozen compelling factors that would make adding more troops a fool’s errand — among them these three:
--Hamid Karzai was not and never would be “an adequate strategic partner;”
--“More troops won’t end the insurgency as long as Pakistan sanctuaries remain … and Pakistan views its strategic interests as best served by a weak neighbor;”
--“We overestimate the ability of Afghan security forces to take over … by 2013.”
(Who would be better qualified to make the judgment on security forces than the senior officer trying to build and train a fledgling, predominantly illiterate Afghan army from 2002 to 2003?)
Obama Bows to the Four-Stars
But Obama found himself outgunned politically by the pro-escalation crowd. Thanks in large measure to a fawning media, Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal enjoyed much higher public profiles that James Jones and Ambassador Eikenberry.
And, besides, if the U.S. and NATO failed to prevail in Afghanistan (whatever “prevail” might mean), the overly smart advisers in Obama’s White House thought they could blame the generals. After all, the President was giving them what they had demanded.
This kind of reasoning seemed to persuade Obama to dismiss the informed commentary of Ambassador Eikenberry and national security adviser Jones, as well as the views of Vice President Biden. Whether Petraeus and McChrystal had it right or wrong, the politically smart ting to do would be to defer to them.
On Nov. 11, 2009, Veterans Day, Obama called his key advisers and generals together. According to Jonathan Alter, it was then that the President gave preliminary approval for 40,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. But he wanted them in and out quickly.
The Pentagon was to prepare a ”targeted” plan for protecting population centers, training Afghan security forces, and beginning a real — not a token — withdrawal within 18 months of the escalation.
Too Inexperienced & Too Clever by Half
Obama’s dilemma was how to project an image of strength in the fight against the Taliban and still avoid letting Afghanistan become an albatross around his neck in 2011-2012 as the next presidential election drew near.
In Obama’s calculation, the image of toughness was to come from giving the generals pretty much what they demanded to carry the fight to the Taliban. The albatross would be avoided, the President thought, by giving the generals a deadline — a date on which U.S. troops would start coming home. Such a deadline would also be helpful in appeasing what used to be called Obama’s base—more recently branded “the professional left.”
The dual message was crafted presumably with the help of the inept folks who led the long assessment with the wrong conclusions—functionaries like former CIA official Bruce Riedel and Ambassador Richard "we’ll-recognize-success-when-we-see-it" Holbrooke. Never ones to pick a fight with beribboned four-stars, they probably repeated their mantra: the military knows best.
Next stop for Obama in deciding how to massage the message was to consult with his own inside group of political wheeler-dealers — folks with long experience in Congress and in White House positions, such as chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, CIA Director Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff John Podesta, and Joe Biden.
With the help of this brain trust, Obama settled on what he thought would be a win-win solution — for his administration, if not for U.S. troops.
In the formal meeting on Nov. 29, Obama would get the top brass on record buying into the escalation and timetable. In other words, he would turn the tables on the generals, boxing them in for a change. According to Alter, the dialogue went like this:
Obama: “David [Petraeus], tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?"
Petraeus: “Sir, I am confident we can train and hand over to the ANA (Afghan National Army) in that time frame.”
Obama: “If you can’t do the things you say you can in 18 months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?”
Petraeus: “Yes, sir, in agreement.”
Mullen: “Yes, sir.”
Obama then asked Defense Secretary Gates if he had any problems with the scenario, eliciting a response from Gates saying he was fine with the decision.
Obama: “I’m not asking you to change what you believe, but if you don’t agree with me that we can execute this, say so now. Tell me now.”
Mullen: “Fully support, sir.”
Petraeus: “Ditto.”
Am I the only one who finds that scene extraordinary?
Alter adds that as Biden walked with the President to the meeting, the Vice President asked if the new policy of beginning a significant withdrawal in 2011 was a direct Presidential order that could not be countermanded by the military. Obama said yes.
That response no doubt accounts for the assurance that Biden later gave at the end of an interview in his West Wing office: “In July 2011 you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out [of Afghanistan]. Bet on it. Bet on it.”
I imagine that this is not the first foolish bet Joe Biden has made. How naïve for him and Obama to think that they had the generals boxed in and that the generals -- along with their powerful allies -- could not figure out some way to insist that a change in circumstance necessitated a longer time frame or additional resources.
The next two years are far more likely to witness a Donnybrook between the Pentagon and White House, as the security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate and Petraeus – now commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, with his vaunted reputation riding on success – inevitably demands more troops.
Can Obama really believe that Petraeus will honor his Nov. 29 pledge; that when things go really bad in Afghanistan the beribboned general will say, “Shucks, I was wrong”; and then tuck tail, forfeiting any ambition he may harbor eventually to run for President?
With all due respect, President Obama and Vice President Biden, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Gen. Conway and Fallujah
We are likely to hear more from Gen. James Conway before he retires this fall. The Marine Commandant has been outspoken for over five years — and with very good reason since his Marines were often the ones bearing the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, at times taking casualties because of politically inspired orders that made no military sense.
After turning over command of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq in early September 2004, Conway let not a day pass before excoriating higher officials for misguided, counterproductive orders to attack the Iraqi Sunni stronghold of Fallujah in retaliation for the brutal killing of four U.S. Blackwater contractors on March 31, 2004.
Conway did not repeat the criticism of UN envoy in Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, and many others who denounced the Fallujah offensive as "collective punishment," a war crime under international law. But the Marine general did observe that the attack "certainly increased the level of animosity that existed."
Conway stressed the stupidity of ordering the attack, in which six Marines were killed and six more wounded, and then halting it just three days later.
The reason for the rash order to attack and the sudden reversal related to concerns within George W. Bush’s White House, first, that the killings of the contractors could not go unpunished, followed by the realization that the worsening war in Iraq could affect Bush’s chances in the 2004 election.
Conway found particularly galling what happened after he was ordered to break off the attack. A handful of former Iraqi generals were allowed to form the "Fallujah Brigade" and were put in charge of the city.
The 800 AK-47 assault weapons, 27 pick-up trucks and 50 radios that the Marines gave this "Brigade" wound up in the hands of the resistance, which remained in control of Fallujah. The equipment also was used against Marines positioned near the city.

Asked who issued the order to attack and then halt, Conway would only say that he had advised against the attack in the first place but that "we follow our orders." According to The Washington Post, senior U.S. officials in Iraq said the command to attack and then desist originated in the White House.

Just days after Bush won a second term in November 2004, the assault on Fallujah resumed with U.S. forces virtually leveling the city, partly in retribution for the dead Blackwater contractors and the humiliation that had been dealt the Bush administration.
Eye for an Eye
Most Americans are unaware of this sequence of events in Fallujah in 2004, but should know and ponder what actually happened. First, the Blackwater contractors had taken a wrong turn on March 29 and ended up in the wrong neighborhood in Fallujah.
Western press accounts left the impression that the murder of the four Blackwater operatives was the work of fanatics who acted without provocation and eventually got — along with thousands of their neighbors — the punishment they deserved. Few are aware that the killings of the contractors represented the second turn in that particular cycle of violence.
On March 22, 2004, Israeli forces assassinated in Gaza the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Yassin — a withering old man, blind and confined to a wheel chair. The Blackwater operatives in Fallujah were killed by a group that described itself as the “Sheikh Yassin Revenge Brigade.” One of the trucks that dragged the bodies of the mercenaries had a large poster of Yassin in its window, as did many Fallujah storefronts.
Gen. Conway may already know the full story. As his retirement nears, he may feel free to point out the actual sequence of events stretching from Gaza to Fallujah and join other realists who have served in the U.S. military and noted the increased dangers to U.S. troops that flow from the widespread perception that U.S. policy is identical to that of Israel.
Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer, and then as a CIA analyst for a total of almost 30 years. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
This article appeared first on


"We will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 says Australian Chief of Defence"

by Ian McPhedran,, Aug. 26, 2010

AUSTRALIAN troops will stay in Afghanistan well beyond the 2014 deadline set by the Government, the nation's top military commander says.

Chief of Defence Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said Diggers would remain in Oruzgan Province after the two to four-year mission to train local Afghan security forces had expired.

"We will still be there supporting them beyond the two to four years, for a period of time," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.


"The coalition will continue to fight very, very hard for a long time to come, certainly beyond 2011 and certainly well into the future," said Air Chief Marshal Houston.


The soldiers of 6RAR, who along with special operations troops are the sharp end of Australia's force in Afghanistan, are paying a bloody price in the campaign against terrorism with four killed in the past few weeks and more than 20 wounded since February.

The article continues about the troops and cites a mother of one of them. She's evidently quite supportive of the continuation of this criminal war; not particularly bright, evidently.

"Afghanistan Crisis Deepens: U.S., Canada and NATO Threaten to Extend War"

by Tim Kennelly, Socialist Project, Aug. 25, 2010

On March 13, 2008, Canada's Parliament voted to extend the country's military "mission" in Afghanistan to July 2011. The motion by the minority Conservative government was supported by the opposition Liberals. The warmakers correctly estimated that fixing an exit date would deflect mounting opposition to the war among the Canadian public and buy time for Canada's continued participation. Since then, the political and military situation in Afghanistan has continued to deteriorate for the occupying forces, and leading politicians are now floating proposals to extend Canada's claimed exit date for a military mission that already constitutes a gross violation of the national sovereignty and human rights of the Afghan people.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the government will stick to its date. However, he also says that Canada will maintain a military presence in Afghanistan after 2011, to train Afghan police and military personnel. This is a de-facto extension of the military mission and not, as the government claims, in a non-combat role.

Following a visit to Afghanistan in late May, Liberal MP and Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae said it is time to revisit the exit date and prepare for a longer intervention. Even the New Democratic Party's military affairs critic, Jack Harris, doesn't rule out a continued military role. He was on the same delegation as Rae and told reporters in Kandahar, "Obviously, there are considerable humanitarian and institution-building concerns about Afghanistan. Whether that involves the military or not is another question, indeed. ... There are other ways we can help build institutions."

The Canadian government's vast increases in military spending belie the promise of withdrawal. A 2009 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives stated that Canada would spend $21-billion on its military in 2009-2010, a 56% increase since 1998-1999. Recently, it announced a $9-billion purchase of new fighter jets, one of the largest purchases in Canadian history.

The rest of the article is about (citing the subheadings) "The Escalating War", "A War for Democracy and Women's Rights?", "U.S. Military Strategy Fails as Worldwide Opposition Deepens", "Afghan Detainee Torture Scandal" (Canadian scandal), and "The Anti-War Movement" (in the U.S., Ca, U.K., Netherlands, which has withdrawn "its 1,900 troops after the sitting government failed to secure a majority in Parliament to keep them there", and maybe another European country or two).

Either from naiveté or hubris or a combination of both, Obama apparently felt he still could maintain some control over the situation through his persuasive skills. Instead, he found himself in a corner.

While I think both, naiveté and hubris, may have been part of the reality, I believe there perhaps or probably is also more to it.

I don't think Obama is a real president to begin with and this was my view about Bush Jr, as well as Clinton. Clinton is apparently more intelligent, say, than Bush Jr, but wasn't a real president, for a real one has to be morally intelligent and Constitutional, which he certainly was far from being.

What goes on in DC is game-playing politics and the real rulers are not in political or military offices; imo. It's basically or simply like former USMC Major General Smedley Butler said about his years of military "service" in foreign countries having [always] for the Big Boys of Wall Street (whatever he precisely called these top racketeers and fiends). The White House and Congress, much of it, that is, surely, if not clearly enough, are similarly controlled.

Politics is full of hypocrisy and bs; and there's little that's new about that.

Gen. Conway may already know the full story. As his retirement nears, he may feel free to point out the actual sequence of events stretching from Gaza to Fallujah and join other realists who have served in the U.S. military and noted the increased dangers to U.S. troops that flow from the widespread perception that U.S. policy is identical to that of Israel.

I don't think they're identical, but there are certainly similarities. One way that they're not identical is that the criminal conduct of Israel against Palestine is very reported, very out in the open, and Israel is constantly tied up with public denials. The U.S., otoh, tries to keep its genocidal crimes, imperialism, et cetera, secret, and they are very or extremely under-reported; including in so-called alternative media. There are many examples happening [today] that evidently most people are unaware of and others choose to ignore, but the following provides one historical account that's very interesting to read and learn about.

"British Petroleum: The Unfinished Crimes and Plunder of Anglo-American Imperialism"

by Dr. Frederic F. Clairmont, Aug. 9, 2010

The article, which has plenty of details, begins by telling readers that BP initially was a British national or state oil company, that it was first named Anglo-Persian Oil Company, APOC, was renamed to Anglo Iranian Oil Company, AIOC, in 1936, and was privatized during the premiership of Margaret Tatcher. And APOC, because of Britain or England, was clearly imperialistic, anti-democratic, et cetera, and consummated "one of the biggest oil discoveries of all times" in 1908.

The article then continues from that point up to when Britain, the U.S. and Israel, while especially the U.S., worked on orchestrating the overthrow of the Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, replacing him with the Shah. And the article describes what Iran was savagely like during this western puppet regime, until 1979, when the regime was replaced with another, while differently intolerant regime that was not puppet of the U.S. We get some excellent quotes from Mohammad Mossadeq; great words.

It was all imperialist and for stealing other countries' natural resources; namely oil, in the case of Iran.

And we should expect that there'd be similarities between different imperialist powers. One of the commonalities is that they war for racket, profit and power, and clearly like to profit from each other's criminal wars; theatre wars, and lower or low-scale wars often, if not usually, conducted through proxy governments lead by spineless and/or very corrupt leaders, who are sometimes put in place or power by the west, of course secretly. They "help" and profit from helping each other; like the "good" imperialist racketeers (and psychopaths) that they are clearly can be expected to do. They do it for power of the empire sort and profiteering corporations.

"War is a Racket", wrote USMC Major General Smedley Butler, who was certainly right. And we learn basically the same thing from John Perkins, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" and subsequent books that are related to U.S. empire, or global empire, for the rich ruling elites.

We don't need to know who the top ruling elites are, however. What is needed is serious and alert moral conscience regarding the political body and, therefore, politics of the government. The top ruling elites stay politically out of sight, their "talks" with politicians are kept behind closed doors, except when they can be publicly reported as having spoken about icecream, f.e.; but the political body of the government can't keep everything secret and some of its crimes are very obvious. Many citizens have been and too many still are blind and deaf, but that doesn't mean that something that's obvious isn't obvious. It just means that they're too blind and deaf to notice what's obvious to others.

People who trust politicians, most of them (some being relatively to acceptably honest, and some of them also being competent, when we're lucky to have both qualities at the same time), will often be easily fooled.

Lesson no. 1: Politics is full of hypocrisy and bs. Always be on guard.

NOTE: Re. "War is a Racket", I suppose that that's not true with all participants in wars. F.e., Malaysia is now going to have troops serving in the war on Afghanistan under the command of NATO, or whatever the name of the international force is. I'm not sure, but doubt that Malaysia is doing this for question of racket.

However, western-lead wars are always for racket, imperialism, robbing peoples' of their natural resources, and possibly "sport". And it was recently reported that some U.S. military commander said it's fun to shoot people. It's evidently like "sport" to him.

"Shhhhhh! JSOC is Hiring Interrogators and Covert Operatives for 'Special Access Programs'"

by Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, Aug. 26, 2010

The US military's most elite counter-terrorism force, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), prides itself on the secrecy of its operations. JSOC runs classified, compartmentalized task forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere around the world. It has operated secret prisons and detention sites globally and is the premiere organization tasked with killing or capturing individuals deemed by the president to be threats to the national security of the United States. ... While there has been an uptick in media focus on the possibility of a widening CIA role in Yemen, JSOC has been operating in Yemen for years, ... -- in other words, they have bumped people off.

What has become abundantly clear is that the Obama administration has taken the Bush-era doctrine of the world as a battlefield and run with it. US special forces are now operating in seventy-five countries across the globe — up from sixty under Bush — and special operations sources say Obama is a major fan of the work of JSOC and other special operations forces.

Over the past few days, the ultra-secretive JSOC has publicly posted several jobs listings that open a small window into the type of work JSOC is performing under the Obama administration. ...

Seeing highly sensitive job descriptions on public job sites has stunned some special operations forces veterans. "This kind of advertising is new under the Obama administration," says a US military source who has worked on SAPs and with JSOC. ...

A job listing posted on USAJobs August 12 for an "Intelligence Specialist (Operations)" requires a Top Secret security clearance and is based out of JSOC headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It says .... ...


Another job listing, posted August 24 has the awesome title of "Future Operations Specialist." ...

A third job listing, posted August 25, is for a JSOC counter-intelligence specialist in Washington, DC. ...

In June, sources working with US special operations forces told The Nation that the Obama administration's expansion of special forces activities globally has been authorized under a classified order dating back to the Bush administration. ...


"The Obama administration took the 2003 order and went above and beyond," said the special forces source. "The world is the battlefield, we've returned to that," he adds, referring to the Obama administration's strategy. ...

Perhaps the public ads for highly-sensitive positions are just part of Preparing the Battlefield 2.0.

All related to the topic of U.S. special ops forces expanded into 75 countries for secret assassinations and other black ops, I posted a link to and an excerpt from an article by Chris Floyd, as well as links to two or three other articles, on August 24th in post #2 of the following page.

"Why General Petraeus’ Assassination Inc. Threatens Us All"

by Fred Branfman,, Aug. 27, 2010

Bio.: "Fred Branfman, the editor of “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), exposed the U.S. secret air war while living in Laos from 1967 to 1971".

"[General McChrystal says that] for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies." —"The Runaway General," Rolling Stone, 6/22/10

The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that (sic) mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America’s military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more "enemies," as Gen. McChrystal suggests — posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. ...

The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing — though directed and financed by the C.I.A. — has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now has changed dramatically.

What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims — through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.

Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale "mechanized assassination." ...


The increasing shift to direct U.S. assassination began on Petraeus’s watch in Iraq,where targeted assassination was considered by many within the military to be more important than the "surge." The killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered a major triumph that significantly reduced the level of violence. As Bob Woodward reported in The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008:


Woodward’s finding that many "authoritative sources" believed assassination more important than the surge is buttressed by Petraeus’ appointment of McChrystal to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan. ...

Another key reason for the increased reliance on assassination is that Petraeus’ announced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan obviously cannot work. ... Petraeus is instead largely relying on mass assassination to try and eliminate the Taliban, both within Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The centrality of assassination to U.S. war plans is revealed by the fact that it was at the heart of the Obama review of Afghan policy last fall. The dovish Biden position called for relying primarily on assassination, while the hawkish McChrystal stance embraced both assassination and more troops. No other options were seriously considered.

A third factor behind the shift to mass assassination is that Petraeus and the U.S. military are also determined to attack jihadi forces in nations where the U.S. is not at war, and which are not prepared to openly invite in U.S. forces. ...

The most significant aspect of this new and expanded assassination policy is President Obama’s authorizing clandestine U.S. military personnel to conduct it. The N.Y. Times has also reported:

In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased ....

... As the N.Y. Times has also reported, Petraeus in September 2009 secretly expanded a worldwide force of assassins answerable only to the military, without oversight by not only Congress but the president himself:

... Unlike covert actions undertaken by the C.I.A., such clandestine activity does not require the president’s approval or regular reports to Congress. ...

Although sold to the American public and Congress as targeted, selective assassination aimed only at a handful of "high value" insurgent leaders, the program has in fact already expanded far beyond that. ...


... It is clear that they have already expanded far beyond the official cover story of targeting only "high-level insurgent leaders," and are killing increasing numbers of people.

The CIA, of course, is no novice at assassination. ...

But the present CIA assassination program in Pakistan and elsewhere is different not only because it is Americans who are themselves the assassins, but because of the unprecedented act of conducting mechanized mass assassination from the air. The CIA, as Nick Turse has reported for, is exponentially increasing its drone assassination program:

"(Drone) Reapers flew 25,391 hours (in 2009). This year, the air force projects that the combined flight hours of all its drones will exceed 250,000 hours. More flight time will, undoubtedly, mean more killing."


A particularly significant indication of the drone strikes’ military ineffectiveness has come from Colonel David Kilcullen, a key Petraeus advisor in Iraq, who testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 23, 2009, that, "Since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. We need to call off the drones."


The notion that a handful of U.S. military and CIA officials have the right to unilaterally and secretly murder anyone they choose in any nation on earth, without even outside knowledge let alone oversight, is deeply troubling .... ...


The evidence is mounting that U.S. assassinations are so ineffective they are actually strengthening anti-American forces in Pakistan. ...

The article continues, including with serious emphasis on the danger this sort of warfare will place Americans in in the future.

I'll comment on a few of the things said in the above excerpt.

*) Isn't Al-Zarqawi the so-called Al Qaeda in Iraq leader the U.S. killed several times; the guy kept resurrecting from the ghostly dead and the U.S. kept "fortunately" killing him? Or was it another Al Qaeda in Iraq leader that this happened with?

*) Re. CIA covert ops and the CIA reporting to the President and Congress, this is surely true when the ops are paid for with funds authorized by the Congress and when the President gives the order, or his authorization. However, the CIA is also known for covert black ops that the Congress is kept uninformed about and which are not paid with funds approved by the Congress. I'm not sure to recall having read that the President is sometimes kept out of the information loop.

*) It is clear that if Obama was against the surge, at first anyway, he's certainly getting his way [very] much, since he authorized these covert special ops and the drone warfare that happen to kill many more civilians than resistance fighters and their leaders.

Obama surely is aware of the stats. If he is, then hubris he must suffer from.


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